Washed by the
silvery waves of
the Arabian Sea, occupies a significant place in the tourist map of Kerala.
Interlocked with a large number of canals and bridges, this water locked district has immense potential for backwater tourism.
Alappuzha, a centre for coir and carpet industries is an ideal headquarters for
backwater touring. The large network of canals provide Alleppey its lifeline. It
has a long sandy beach which is spectacular. At one end are the dense palm
groves that are so characteristic of Kerala's landscape.
The history of the district in the Paleolithic age is obscure. It is presumed that
the coastal taluks of Cherthala, Ambalapuzha and Karthikapally
might have been under water and these areas were formed by the accumulation of
silt and sand later than the other parts of the district. Kuttanadu,
one of the taluks of the present Alappuzha district was well known even from the
early periods of the Sangam age. The early Cheras had their home in Kuttanadu
and they were called ' Kuttuvans ', named after this place. Christianity had a
strong foothold in the area even from the Ist century A.D. The church located at
Kokkomangalam or Kokkothamangalam in Cherthala is one of the seven churches
founded by St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus at Maliankara in
Muziris port, presently known as Cranganore of Kodungallur in 52 A.D. and
preached Christianity in South India. During 9th to 12th century A.D, the
district flourished in the field of religion and culture under the second Chera
During the 16th century small
principalities like Kayamkulam (presently Karthikappally and Mavelikkara taluks),
Purakkad which was often called Ambalappuzha or Chempakasseri (present
Ambalappuzha and part of Kuttanadu taluk) Karappuram comprising two
principalities called Moothedath and Iledath (present Cherthala taluk) emerged
into power. In the same period, the Portuguese came into prominence in the
political scene of this district and they built several churches of which
churches located at Purakkad and Arthungal are wellknown.
In the 17th century the
Portuguese power declined and the Dutch had a predominent position in the
principalities of this district. As a result of several treaties signed between
the Dutch and the kings of Purakkad, Kayamkulam and Karappuram, the Dutch built
factories and warehouses in various places of the districts for storing pepper,
ginger,etc. In course of time they interfered in the political and cultural
affairs of the district. It was at that time Maharaja Mathandavarma, the 'Master
of Modern Travencore' interfered on the political affairs of those
The annexation of the kingdoms of
Kayamkulam, Ambalappuzha, Thekkumkur, Vadakkumkur and Karappuram to Travencore
gave the Dutch a set back from the political scene of the district.
Marthandavarma Maharaja had a remarkable role in the internal progress of the
district. He gave special attention to the development of Mavelikkara as an
administrative as well as a commercial center. The Krishnapuram palace, which is
now a protected monument of the State Archaeology Department was constructed
during that period.
When the town was founded by Raja
Kesavadasan, the Diwan of Travancore in 1762, there was just one canal through
the strip of sand between the backwaters and the sea. This soon grew into a
bustling waterway, with shops, factories and commercial establishments springing
up on either banks of the canal. This attracted merchants from other parts of
By the mid 19th century the sea
receded a mile offering more land along the sandstrip. Trading vessels soon
began to call on Alappuzha. In 1859 the first organized coir factory was started
here and began producing matting from coir yarn on a loom developed by an
English Sea Captain. Soon other British owned weaving establishments followed. Meanwhile
in 1816 the Church Missionary Society set up its local Headquarters in Alappuzha and three years later the first Anglican church was
built. In 1851 Alappuzha had the honour of housing the first post office in the
erstwhile Travancore State.
FAMOUS FOR :
It is in the months of
August and September that the moist,rain-drenched earth and the glorious everflowing backwaters
burst into song together, as over hundred thousand men and women
gather on the banks to witness a spectacular water regatta - the SNAKE
BOAT RACES. Boat race crews begin to practice for the race months before the great day. They
live together, eat together, toil together to work themselves into a smooth, coordinated team.A splendid procession
unfolds with all types of 'Kali-Vallangal' or RACING BOATS, led by the largest and the most majestic of them, the
Its rowers sing songs known as ' vanchi pattu ' to the rhythm of the oars - a feast for the eyes and the ears. The
largest of the 'Chundan' boats the length of which varies between a hundred and a hundred and thirty feet
can seat a hundred and twenty rowers, sixty on each side. Like the neck of an angry snake it curves to a height of fifteen to twenty
feet. The prow is pointed and stands four feet above the water with its glistening brass embellishments. The main steerman of the boat
stands on the amaram with specially made long oars. The efficiency with which they handles the oar is what establishes the speed of the
boat and its balance. They claim that a single strong plunge of the oar into the water can take the boat three leaps forward to a distance
of thirsty feet.
On boat race day, the Chundan
Valloms as the greatest racing boats are called -are slicked down with a special oil to make them glide effortlessly through water.
The crews then visit a shrine carrying the stroke and largest steering oar with them. And having offered prayers to the Almighty, they are
now ready to war with their fellow men. The air crackles with excitement as the best of the 130 feet Chundan Valloms, each manned by
over a hundred rowers, fly through the waters at break neck speed, egged on by the fierce competitive spirit that marks the event and the
spectators lusty roars.
The most famous of
these is the NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE
on the Second Saturday of every August There are a dozen other Snake Boat Races. The latest addition is the one in connection with the
GREAT ELEPHANT MARCH held on 19th of January every year. Champakulam, Kavalam,
Karichal, Jawahar Thayangari, Kallooparamban, Pacha, Pulincunnu, Nedubhagam,
Cheruthana, Kandangari and Paippad are the chief competitors for the trophies. Large and spectacular chundans
glide towards the finishing line like meteors in the sky with water splashing violently on both sides like streaks of lightning. An
unforgettable and truly special scene. The fund of energy, spirit of competition and unerring co-ordination makes this sport one of the
Held in memory of the
Prathista ceremony of Haripad Subramanya Temple and therefore has a religious significance. Payipad Boat Race is celebrated for three
days, commencing from the Onam festival day. Snake boat Processions are taken out on the first two days. The competitive boat-race takes
place on the third day.
Boat Race, 11th January connected with Great Elephant March.
- Pulimkunnu, Rajiv
Gandhi Boat Race, August Last Saturday
- Champakulam Boat
Race, June-July Connected with the Asterism "Moolam" of
Midhunam, a Malayalam month.
- Neerattupuram Boat
Race, August-Sep. conducted during Onam days.
'Kettukazhcha' is very famous and it is a procession of tall
decorated structures in chariots in which effigies of horses,
bullocks are displayed.
- Thiruvalla, Pamba
- Haripad, Karuvatta
- Mannar Boat Race